Bill Russell, Celtics legend and 11-time NBA champion, dies at 88

Getty Images
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Bill Russell, an NBA legend who led the Boston Celtics to a record 11 championships and is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, died on Sunday. He was 88.

Russell's family announced his death in a statement, saying he died peacefully with his wife Jeannine by his side. The family did not disclose a cause of death.

The 6'10" former center dominated the NBA as a defensive and rebounding force over his 13-year career, winning five MVP awards and becoming a 12-time all-star between 1956 to 1969. He also coached the Celtics over the last three years of his playing career, leading the team to two more titles on top of the nine he secured as a player. He was the first Black head coach in the league.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Russell "stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league."

"For nearly 35 years since Bill completed his trailblazing career as the league's first Black head coach, we were fortunate to see him at every major NBA event, including the NBA Finals, where he presented the Bill Russell Trophy to the Finals MVP," Silver said in a statement Sunday. "Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever."

Russell's family also pointed to his long record of activism and social justice, saying his "understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life."

"Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change," the family said. "Perhaps you'll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded. And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill's uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #6."

President Barack Obama honored Russell with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Battleground Tracker: Republicans lead race for House control at start of 2022 campaign

Face The Nation: Kashkari, Salvanto, Khalid

Minneapolis Fed chief says inflation still "very concerning"